Giant Fighting Robots: America vs Japan



It’s been years since the popular show, Battle Bots, first aired, which gained the attention of robotics geeks around the globe with gladiator-style tournaments. Teams create robotic warriors that can flip one another over, can use propelling blades to chop into their opponent, flame throwers to burn out circuits and often use the rotating sidebars to  mangle and  bust apart their enemies, rendering them useless. It was only a matter of time before the fan’s dreams would come true and we’d see the next level of robotic warriors being built.

The idea of giant mechanical gladiators have shown up in books, games and films for decades now. I remember watching Robot Jox when it came out on VHS. Transformers was many children’s favorite cartoon, and when the toys were made available everyone wanted them. Pacific Rim used giant human controlled robots to defend against enormous creatures that had traveled through a wormhole to take over and destroy the planet.

In the film, Real Steel, Hugh Jackman plays the role of a prizefighter who lost his chance at the title because the business of fighting robots stole the ring. In order to adapt to changes, he becomes a promoter who uses scrap metal from junk yards to create champion robots. Like many ideas that we’ve seen in films, someone was bound to make the sport of giant fighting robots come to life.

Inspired by games like Mech Warriors, the founders of Megabots, inc. built America’s first giant piloted mech. According to their website they challenged Japan to a duel. “The Mk. II MegaBot is a 15-foot tall, 12,000lb robot capable of hurling 3lb projectiles at speeds of over 130 MPH.” Scenes from The Matrix and Avatar show how useful, yet extremely dangerous these mechs could be.

“Japan accepted and will be using a 9,000lb robot known as KURATAS created by a group in Japan known as Suidobashi Heavy Industries.” Suidobashi Heavy Industries agreed under one condition: that the fight includes melee combat. Move over MMA, I might have to change the channel.

Like the robots used in Pacific Rim, the Mk. II seats two human controllers; one person controls its movements while the other person uses the weapons. They were scheduled to put on a show in Vegas, where they were going to battle drones, and had planned a demonstration in which they were to shoot the drones out of the sky using their arm cannon, but the CEO of the event’s co-sponsor backed out. They still performed a demonstration for their fans, shooting at boxes instead. I guess the drone companies didn’t want to seem like they couldn’t pull their weight in the world of warfare.

Megabots, inc. has raised more than $2.4 million in crowdfunding money for their robot and believe that giant robotic gladiators will be “The future of sports.” I’m willing to bet that if they’re right, and if these robots do well enough, they will also be the tools of war before we know it. What was just a dream a few years ago, has now become a reality. We are seeing the dawn of robots come to life, and most people shrug it off like it’s no big deal. Maybe it’s because we’ve witnessed it in movies so often that it’s to be expected. I think that’s because most people are ready for a change and they believe, like I do, that it’s about damn time.

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Until next time…
William C. Raustler.